‘We want this to be easy’: HSE looks to speed up health checks in digital push

29 Jul 2022

Minister of State for Trade Promotion, Digital and Company Regulation Robert Troy, TD, Navi Group health and wellness manager Siobhan Kellett and Care Plus Pharmacy dispensary manager Samantha Jones. Image: Shane O’Neill, Coalesce.

The Health Elevator scheme aims to make it easier for people around Ireland to get a health check, while using software to save time for medical professionals.

Ireland’s Health Service Executive (HSE) is rolling out a pilot scheme to conduct rapid health checks.

It is part of the national service’s digital health transformation strategy, which aims to move healthcare closer to the home and encourage Irish people to take a proactive approach to health screening.

The new free programme uses a combination of health checks, expert advice and digital technology to give participants quick check-ups to screen them for common health problems.

Called the Health Elevator, it is a collaboration between the HSE, CarePlus Pharmacy and a number of tech and healthcare organisations. A total of 500 people are taking part in the pilot programme across five pharmacies.

It uses software from Full Health Medical, an Irish company that aims to streamline patient care with tools designed by doctors. The aim is to improve the rate at which individuals get health check-ups while reducing the clerical input from healthcare professionals.

Full Health Medical CEO Dermot Shortt told SiliconRepublic.com that the company’s core service aims to replicate the thought process that a doctor goes through in order to create a medical report. He said this can speed up health checks by freeing up time for medical professionals and allowing them to see the reports of more people.

How it works

Patients who use the Full Health Medical system first answer a series of medical questions that have been refined over the past 12 years by healthcare professionals.

The patient then schedules an appointment at a CarePlus Pharmacy, where a trained healthcare professional runs through checks such as blood pressure, BMI, blood tests and lung function.

Using an algorithm-assisted system, the data of each patient is checked and any anomalies in either the questionnaire or the medical results are flagged.

A medical professional then goes through the reports of each patient and can quickly identify potential health issues and the steps a person should take next. The patient receives a report with recommended follow-up actions.

‘We can make it as easy as popping in to buy a Covid-19 test, that’s how easy we want this to be’

“By using pharmacies you can deploy this out into the community, you’re really removing barriers that might prevent people from finding an excuse effectively to have their health checked.” Shortt said. “We can make it as easy as popping in to buy a Covid-19 test, that’s how easy we want this to be.”

Shortt said an expanded healthcare scheme with software assistance can make it easier for doctors to review the health checks of hundreds of patients, while saving on healthcare costs by preventing health issues from progressing into emergencies.

“The cost of dealing with a stroke or cardiac arrest is obviously magnitudes bigger than the cost of delivering a rapid health check to somebody,” Shortt said. “You can probably test 500 people for the cost of dealing with a stroke.”

Other partners in the Health Elevator programme include FitBit, Google, Patients Know Best, Amazon Web Services, Eurofins, Roche and Trikmedika. As part of the pilot, each of the 500 participants is being provided with a Fitbit device and digital app to monitor their health and wellbeing in the long run.

Speaking about the launch of Health Elevator last week, Minister of State Robert Troy, TD, said he supported the use of digital technologies and innovations that benefit society.

“Measures that improve patient outcomes and enhance their healthcare experience are to be welcomed and I look forward to seeing my results over the coming weeks.”

Full Health Medical founder Dr Ann Shortt added: “Proactively identifying chronic disease risk factors early and addressing them, quickly, can transform health and significantly reduce lifetime costs and burden associated with chronic disease.”

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Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic